The activist of the Rifeno Popular Movement (Hirak), Nasser Zafzafi, arrested and sentenced at the end of May 2017 to 20 years in prison for Plot to attack state security in addition to other crimes such as rebellion and participation in illegal protests in Morocco began a hunger strike last Sunday in the Tangier 2 prison where he is being held together with Mohamed Jellol, the another Hirak activist sentenced to 10 years in prison on the same charges as Nasser Zafzafi.
In a telephone conversation with the jailed activist’s father tells us that last Wednesday my son went on a hunger strike while drinking unsweetened water because the mixture makes him nauseous. After six days, his lawyers came from Casablanca to visit him. When one of the jailers approached him to inform him of the visit he found Nasser on the floor of his cell service unconscious and drenched in his own blood. Nasser had suffered a faint caused by a drop in blood glucose and when he fell he hit his nose causing a hemorrhage. Nasser was bleeding for an hour and twenty minutes until they found him. Thanks to the visit of his lawyers my son are still alive, but his health quite deteriorates says, Ahmed.
Despite the pain that the hunger strike causes me as a father and the state of health in which he is, I know my son and he will not stop the hunger strike until his demands are met in prison, says Ahmed Zafzafi. These demands involve the reunification of all Riffian political prisoners in the same jail and improvements within the confinement space. Nasser Zafzafi is in precarious health conditions, without proper health care, and unable to communicate with the family, said a spokesman for the family.
For its part, the General Directorate for Penitentiary Administration and Reintegration (DGAPR) issued a statement in this regard, alleging that last Friday, February 12, 2021, the management of the Tangier 2 penitentiary received a communication from the Hirak inmates informing them of the decision to initiate a hunger strike without specifying the reasons, the statement said, which continued to state that the two detainees announced that they will not renounce their decision and that they refuse to dialogue with any other party, be it the prison management, the regional or central administration or any other high-level contact or authority and even though the Tangier 2 prison management wishes to allow detainees (NZ) and (MJ)enjoy all the rights guaranteed by law , and that he has acceded to some of their requests of human nature, as part of the preservation of family and social ties, these two inmates presented they expressed their intention to begin a hunger strike The General Delegation fully discharges the health effects that could result from this senseless behavior the statement concluded.
Zefzafi led the demonstrations in Al Hoceima (Morocco) at the end of 2016 following the murder of the street fish vendor Mohssine Fikri. Thousands of people attended Fikri’s burial in peaceful protest, from Al Hoceima to the city of Imzouren, 20 kilometers away, accompanying the body of the fish seller and it was the first of a series of demonstrations that took place throughout the Rif to calling for justice and dignity for the Riffian people, which culminated in the arrest and imprisonment of some 50 activists, including Zefzafi, protests that were harshly repressed in the streets by the Moroccan authorities.
For today Saturday a rally is scheduled in Madrid in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, organized by members of the Hirak movement in exile, which will be attended by former Riffian politicians Jamal Mouna and Mohamed Jawhari, who were received yesterday in the Congress of Deputies by a parliamentary commission headed by United We Can Deputy Enrique Santiago.
TEN YEARS OF MOROCCAN SPRING
In February 2011, the protest movement that shook the Arab world reached Morocco. The so-called Arab spring emerged in a large part of the Arab countries and the citizens of Morocco took the opportunity to demand a change of course for the country. The Moroccan 20F, unlike the rest of the movements of the Arab Spring, did not demand an overthrow of the ruling regime but rather sought reforms of political and social rights and the implantation of full democracy.
The February 20 movement was born as a result of interactions between young tech-savvy Moroccans and street activists inspired by the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings that had started days earlier. Many of the group’s leaders were young people who had, for the most part, experience as activists but had participated in groups that had little prior connection. As protests escalated in Tunisia and Egypt, young Moroccans began to express their support for the protests on Facebook, taking them further, discussing political reforms in the streets and squares and their own country.
King Mohamed VI ordered a total reform of the constitution by calling for legislative elections. This constitutional reform included many of the demands of the movement in political and social rights and public liberties. The monarch would assume in the face of his people the curtailment of powers in the hands of the monarchy.
A Facebook page, “Moroccans talking with the King” became the basis of the mobilization. Later, the group was renamed “Freedom and Democracy Now”, where young Moroccans debated how they would create their own protest movement by setting out the demands that eventually became the basis of the founding document of the movement.
The marches were massively attended throughout the country. The protests, which began to be weekly, were violently repressed on some occasions, leading to deaths and arrests. The demonstrations reached such depth that the king, concerned about the events taking place in the surrounding countries, was forced to react. Mohamed VI gave an opening speech that managed to calm the spirits in the street.
Throughout Morocco in the streets and squares, students and workers, women, youth without occupation chanted the same slogans and gave voice to a struggle that is still very much alive today according to the founding member of February 20 and Moroccan activist Hassan Around. The makzhen (Moroccan shadow government) killed the movement. But the activism does not end, he said, predicting what would happen years later in the Rif. I left on February 20, 2011, and I will always keep coming out and protesting, whether the February 20 movement is alive or not.
Critics of the regime, a part of the intelligentsia who lived through the protests and who today question the reforms promised by the King of Morocco. The February 20 movement eliminated fear and increased political awareness in Morocco and became an effective tool that is ready to restart at any moment, according to Tarik, now an electrical engineer, who participated 10 years ago in the riots when he was studying at the international university of Rabat